Thousands of Greek-Australians and Greek culture enthusiasts are attending the Antipodes Lonsdale Street Greek Festival in Melbourne, which is being held on October 22nd to October 23rd, and is organized by the Greek community of Australia.
This is the first Antipodes festival to take place after the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizers are expecting one hundred thousand visitors over the weekend at what is Melbourne’s biggest street closure and party in the city.
Antipodes festival, an epic street party
The space of the Greek festival in Melbourne has doubled from what it was in previous years. It now boasts three show stages and eighty-four market stalls offering delicious Greek food and drinks.
According to the schedule, over seventy hours of music and dance performances are planned for in total on the stages during the weekend. This is in addition to cooking demonstrations, Karagiozis puppet shows, and impromptu street performances by festival visitors.
Popular Greek singer Nikos Vertis joined the celebrations on Saturday and offered an incredible night of free entertainment performing his greatest hits on the Bendigo Bank main stage.
Leonidas Vlachakis, Chair of the Cultural Committee of the Greek Community of Australia, told festival sponsor Ant1 TV that the event attracts visitors from outside Australia as well. Travelers from Japan, China, and other Asian countries schedule their trips to Melbourne during the days of the Antipodes festival to join the Greek-style celebrations.
The new façade of the Greek cultural center of Melbourne, adorned with representations of the Parthenon frieze, was revealed on the first day of the festival.
Relations of ancient Greek word “Antipodes” to Australia
The Antipodes festival is named after the ancient Greek word used by ancient historians and philosophers to refer to the people who live diametrically opposite to any given spot on Earth. It means “those who have their feet against ours.”
In his dialogue Timaeus, ancient Greek philosopher Plato used the word in his description of a spherical Earth.
The British eventually came to use the word Antipodes to refer to Australia and New Zealand because they were on the other side of the earth from Britain.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary explains that this word loan from ancient Greek is “no longer used in English as a designation for people, but the notion of the other side of the globe lives on in its current geographical sense.”